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Australia races to series lead

STAND-IN Australian captain Michael Clarke led by example with a fine all-round display as his side defeated Pakistan by 27 runs in the third one-day international at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Clarke's half-century and three wickets helped Australia take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

Clarke, who was appointed captain after the selectors decided to rest Ricky Ponting, first helped Australia put up a decent target of 199 with a fighting 66 off 93 balls, well assisted by Callum Ferguson (41). He then bowled his off-spinners to return with figures of 3-15 from six overs as Pakistan collapsed from 95 for no loss to 171 all out.

His fellow offspinner Nathan Hauritz took 2-25 in his ten overs.

Pakistan made heavy weather of its run chase with four overs of madness undoing all the good effort put in by the openers Salman Butt (48) and Ahmed Shehzad (40). The pair put on 95 runs for the first wicket when Hauritz struck twice in as many deliveries to trigger the slide.

Butt edged one to Clarke in the slips and Younis Khan played a chip shot to Andrew Symonds for a golden duck.

Misbah-ul-Haq started with a six but he perished going for another ambitious one to Clarke. His wicket rattled Shehzad, who had crossed and was bowled the next delivery having failed to see the arm ball.

Shahid Afridi survived the second hat-trick ball of the innings but soon after top-edged a catch to David Hussey. The tail failed to support Shoaib Malik, who hung on for a fighting knock of 30 from 56 balls, but when he was run out, his team was still 28 runs short.

Clarke believed the pressure was now on Pakistan which is hosting the series in the UAE after Australia refused to tour the country because of security concerns.

"Both sides have failed to improve on their batting. But we did the job in the end and I am happy that my players responded well to the challenge.

"We did well but need to work hard on our batting. We have five days before the next match to sort out our problems," he said, adding that his side was 20-30 runs short of their intended target.


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